Kevin Brunkhorst
& Paul Tynan,
(NohJoh, 2005)

Digital/Spiritual by Kevin Brunkhorst and Paul Tynan is a slow-paced, contemplative type of jazz album that has a bit of darkness about it. While parts and pieces make for great background music, this is not something to casually play unless the intended mood/activity is introspection.

From the very beginning, the listener is compelled to inquire what he or she is hearing. "Being There" has an introductory dissonant sound effect that resembles a moaning human voice, but then goes into a distinctly different and smoother melody. "The Chair" has a similar theme in its opening, a jarring distorted noise one would expect in a David Lynch film, only to be followed by a more typical jazz sound. "Sorry Please" and "My Next Wife" don't have that introductory effect, yet they take on a more somber tone than the other tunes.

Perhaps it is the recurring initial disjointedness that establishes an off-putting dark tone in some tunes, while others enforce the overall somber theme for the album.

The long-titled second song, "Babel (or: Language as a mitigator of terror)/Our Foreign Policy," is a free-form assemblance of percussion and horns. The underlying, connecting rhythm has an Oriental/Far Eastern sound, but is frequently interrupted by limited, defined horns or random generated sound (even paper crackling?). Certain pieces of the whole are very interesting, but the entire work seems a bit disjointed. But then again, freeform allows for that discontinuity of style, so by not fitting the theme, perhaps they're reinforcing the theme? (Yeah, I don't understand that statement, either, and I wrote it.)

Digital/Spiritual is certainly the thinking person's jazz album. Whereas some jazz has an organic flow to it, this album has the opposite effect. Instead of anything resembling a flow, there are broken junctures and rolling shifts. Brunkhorst and Tynan have produced an intriguing album, but it seems to be made for a limited audience of jazz enthusiasts.

by C. Nathan Coyle
5 August 2006

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